School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Meredith J. Park


language comprehension, the science of reading, reading instruction, students with disabilities, professional development, Texas Reading Academies


Reading and Language | Special Education and Teaching


To build today's students' reading skills, teachers must know effective instructional reading practices. Therefore, the purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the experiences with learning and incorporating the elements of the Texas Reading Academies with a focus on language comprehension by teachers who instruct students with disabilities in Texas. The Texas Reading Academies' goal is to provide teachers with reading instructional practices grounded in the science of reading. The theory guiding this study was Malcolm Knowles' adult learning theory, with the central research question asking what the experiences of teachers who instruct students with disabilities were with learning and incorporating the language comprehension elements after completing the Texas Reading Academies' training. Data for the study was collected from 11 teachers who instruct students with disabilities using interviews, journal prompts, and focus groups. Data concerning the teachers' experiences were analyzed using the phenomenological model outlined by Moustakas (1994). Four major themes emerged from the data: teachers' focus on learning, factors that impacted teachers' learning, implementation of reading instruction, and maximizing strengths for students with disabilities. Within these four themes, teachers articulated being overwhelmed during the training; however, the interactive training experience led them to grow professionally in their knowledge and application of the science of reading. In addition, future research recommendations were discussed, including a longitudinal study to examine teachers who instruct students with disabilities' motivation to continue applying the science of reading into their daily reading instructional practices.